This article originally appeared on Oil City News. Used with permission.
CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Within 24 hours of Gov. Mark Gordon issuing an executive order requiring conservation of big game migration routes, the Wyoming Senate struck down a piece of legislation relating to the same topic.
SF 135 would establish a coordinated effort to protect big game from collisions with vehicles, including creating identification of migration pathways, specify state agencies’ duties in addressing collisions between big game animals and cars, allow for the development of governmental and private sector responses to protect migration pathways and specify duties for state agencies in the development of those plans.
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The bill was sponsored by Natrona County’s Sen. Drew Perkins and Rep. Steve Harshman and Fremont County Sen. Eli Bebout.
Gordon’s executive order preserves protections for three mule deer corridors in Sublette, Baggs and Platte Valley and provides guidelines for the designation of additional routes. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department would have to identify a potential corridor based on scientific data. The department would then conduct an in-depth evaluation and risk assessment.
The three migration corridors in the southwestern portion of the state are considered vital routes for hoofed animals like elk, pronghorn and mule deer. The loss of these corridors and other important habitats have contributed to the species’ decline.
Perkins spoke with Oil City News prior to the afternoon floor session, stating that he wanted to back the legislation because he felt this was an issue that the state legislators should be involved with.
“Executive orders come and go,” he said. “The next governor might come in and completely hate the idea and take it out. This way, we can find some foundation in the law with the input and participation from the legislature.”
Perkins told Oil City and his fellow senators during the floor session that he’d discussed the matter with Gordon, explaining to the governor that this bill wasn’t an “attack” on him. Perkins said he wanted to take the governor’s concerns into consideration and even noted that some of the requirements in Gordon’s executive order were also in the bill.
“I know the governor isn’t thrilled with the discussions about migration corridors, but I think this will be a lasting legacy for us,” Perkins said on the floor prior to the vote.
The majority of the Senate voted down the bill, receiving 12 “ayes” and 18 “nos.” The ayes included Perkins, Hot Springs County Sen. Wyatt Agar and Laramie County Sens. Lynn Hutchings and Tara Nethercott. The “no” votes came from senators such as Albany County Sens. Chris Rothfuss and Liisa Anselmi-Dalton and Natrona County Sens. Jim Anderson and Bill Landen.